Combined Country XV 0-64 British & Irish Lions
O'Driscoll determined to keep Wallabies guessing
ESPN Staff
June 11, 2013
The Lions' Brian O'Driscoll takes on Combined Country's Lewie Catt, Queensland-New South Wales Combined Country v British & Irish Lions, Hunter Stadium, Newcastle, June 11, 2013
The Lions' Brian O'Driscoll takes on Combined Country's Lewie Catt © Getty Images

British & Irish Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll was delighted his side shut-out the part-timers of the Combined Country XV in their latest tour clash in Newcastle on Tuesday night.

The Lions powered to a 64-0 victory in a one-sided clash at Hunter Stadium but O'Driscoll insisted there were still plenty of lessons to be learnt ahead of the first Test showdown with Australia on June 22.

"I think it was 10 tries we scored, which is good against any opposition," O'Driscoll told Sky Sports. "I guess we didn't know what to expect with the opposition but they certainly gave it the full 80 and tested us at times. I think one of the most pleasing factors was that we kept them to zero, we put a lot of emphasis on our defence and we're pleased with that aspect today."

The victory was the Lions fourth in succession following wins against the Barbarians, Western Force and Reds and O'Driscoll is confident they will improve further ahead of the Test series with the Waratahs their next opponents in Sydney on Saturday.

He said: "The team is going to grow with games, going to try new things to make sure we keep the Wallabies guessing. There's hopefully a little more to come, the more games we play together the more opportunity we have to gel and I think the more we're enjoying each other's company we're able to express that out on the pitch. There's good team spirit there."

Stuart Hogg made a rare but impressive outing at fly-half and the Scotland international was delighted he was able to enjoy himself while orchestrating a convincing win. "When you've got the likes of O'Driscoll and (Jamie) Roberts outside you it's going to make your job a lot easier," the 20-year-old said.

"I was a bit nervous coming into this game having not played 10 for a long time but I settled in pretty well and enjoyed it, which is the main thing. As the game went on I was getting more and more relaxed and that's exactly what I want it to be like, I want to enjoy my rugby and it showed out there."

Regarding the match, Hogg said: "We went out to win and try things. In the first half I thought we were clinical and ruthless, but in the second half we started to force things and the scoreboard wasn't as high."

Looking ahead, Hogg added: "We're high in confidence just now, that's four wins from four, we're in a good place and now it's all about building, setting more targets and achieving them."

The lineout was the Lions' main area of concern - a fact acknowledged by lock Ian Evans. "It's not down to any individual and they're little things to iron out and come training this week I think we'll iron them out."

Assistant coach Rob Howley also admitted there is work to be done before facing the Wallabies. He said: "Generally happy but I suppose the second half was frustrating. Obviously it's quite dewy but there was probably a few too many handling errors for our liking, particularly in the opposition 22. It's a little frustrating but obviously to score 10 tries we're happy."

Howley also championed Hogg, saying of the youngster: "He's got natural talent, he's a great footballer, he's got great feet and not a bad kicking game either. He gave opportunities to Jamie and Drisco in the backs, so delighted with Stuart, he can play there and he'll have other opportunities as well."

The Lions also appeared to emerge from the game without any fresh injury concerns. Winger George North was replaced at half-time due to a hamstring complaint after scoring two tries in the first period, but Howley said it was just a precaution.

"George's hamstring is quite tight so we decided to take him off, not risk him, and it was good to see Sean Maitland go out to the wing as well," he said. We've got strength in depth in our back three and Simon Zebo tuned up today. George's is just a tight hamstring and no further worries."

Lions fullback Sean Maitland races away from Combined Country's scrum-half Michael Snowden © Getty Images
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